Posts Tagged ‘David Warner’


Goutham Chakravarthi

Teams were beaten even before they set their foot on these shores over the last two decades. Bowlers targeted batsmen and former players and media targetted the captain. Crowds were one sided, and invariably, so were the contests on the field. Insofar, this tour has been anything but that.

Two days into the series, the talk has largely revolved around DRS in the Aussie press. No talk to players and ex-players targetting opposition. Even newbies like Kohli and Yadav are left alone. If anything, a scathing attack was made on the pace of Ed Cowan’s batting in the first innings. Mental disintegration on and off the field that was the norm is now missing. It is a fair reflection of the times. It is still a marquee series, but it is still a battle between a side arresting its downward slide and another that is trying to rebuild to reclaim the top spot. It will be fought to the end, but the winner will not be crowned the champion as it was the case for much of the last decade.

Sehwag and Tendulkar scored aggressive half centuries in India's strong reply to Australia's 333.

Sehwag and Tendulkar scored aggressive half centuries in India's strong reply to Australia's 333.

Like Australia’s faded aura, cricket vocabulary seems anything but right with regards to its bowling. Words like attack, guile and spell sat well with the writers and bowlers of the past, but it chokes your throat to say that when you see Hussey and Warner as part of a bowling unit.  It was touted as much a battle of the young Australian quicks high on velocity and potential against an ageing yet formidable batting side. By lunch on day two, a determined lower order had taken the Australian tally to 333. The wicket had considerably quicked, and notably there was less happening off the wicket. But, good carry and enough movement off the wicket promised a lot in store for the remainder of the day.

Ivan Lendl was among the first to play mind games. He didn’t do it by targeting his opponent through the media space, but used his well-toned physique and the locker room to carry out the task. He would walking around the locker room doing skips stark naked. With Sehwag, there is no fear of such physical intimidation. But with bat in hand, he is designed to destroy bowlers. He is the barometer of courage for bowlers. He plays his game, and often with a smile. May be, Pattinson will not second that after his altercation with Sehwag. But India got what it wanted out of Sehwag – a quick and positive start for Dravid and Tendulkar to build on. Sehwag’s was a chancy innings, but promised more good in the remainder of the series.

The innings of the Test so far came from Tendulkar. With immense brouhaha surrounding his hundreth 100, he played with freedom and decorated the MCG with spectacular strokeplay. He was rarely in any trouble and put on a show. A repeat of his 2007-08 showing with the bat might well pull the series in India’s favour this time, but that is a discussion for later. The MCG crowd gave him a rousing reception and he didn’t let them down. With the day drawing to a close and a partner suffering with cramps, he closed shop early only to be bowled by the fiery Siddle who was the sole hope in a largely flat performance by the Australian bowlers. India will sleep comfortably in the knowledge that Dravid is still unbeaten, even if luckily so.

Both batting units have put up a good show thus far and the wicket has flattened out. It promises to be good for batting for another two days. But given the recent history of both batting units that is skewed towards more than the occasional batting collapse, there is still plenty to look forward to in the Test.


Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan

December 26, 2011

When Ed Cowan confessed that he’d purchased a ticket quite some time ago to attend the Boxing Day test as a spectator along with a friend, it was hard to conceive how things could dramatically change within a short span of time as he led the Australian batting to top score with 68 on a day where the Indians came out on top for most periods. The hallmark of his innings revolved around his ability to leave as many balls as he could, and put away the bad ones in style. As much as Ian Chappell wishes that Cowan was 21 and not 29, he certainly isn’t old enough to be taken away from the reckoning.

That said, Cowan faced something of a thankless task up on assuming duties in the middle. His solidity at one end predated the Warner assault, although the real challenge of resisting to drive in an Autobahn as against negotiating Mumbai peak-hour traffic required immense mental strength and application. Cowan displayed the maturity of a traditional opening batsman willing to occupy the crease for long periods.

Cowan’s patience at the top of the order is what Australia need © Resources3 News

With Warner falling prey to a bouncer from Umesh Yadav, a similar delivery that he’d dispatched for six over mid wicket during Yadav’s previous over, Marsh came in and left without troubling the scorers after spooning a catch to Virat Kohli at backward point. Yadav possessed the pace and aggression to have a go at the batsmen without fear, although he ended up being expensive by conceding a few runs too many with short deliveries.

Ponting entered the MCG amidst clouded doubts amongst many who felt that he’d possibly be playing his final Boxing Day test. Any reservations over his form were quickly put to rest as he seized the initiative after being hit on the helmet early by a steeping delivery from Yadav – just the kind of incident that would trigger his competitive juices.

The scales seemed to be tilting towards Australia’s favor with both Cowan and Ponting looking strong out in the middle. Ponting’s trademark pulls were on display as he dismissed short deliveries from Zaheer and Umesh Yadav. But it was the young bowler from Vidarbha who had the last laugh when he had Ponting caught at second slip by VVS Laxman. However, signs of Ponting getting back to form will not be a welcome thought in the Indian dressing room.

Yadav’s three wickets came at an expensive economy rate, but in hindsight, his aggressive approach had more positives than negatives at store. It took him a while to understand that the policies of bowling short on a rather spongy wicket was lopsided against him – and the possible returns for that approach being rather modest – that it wasn’t worth sticking to it.

The experience of Zaheer Khan came in handy as he quickly removed Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey in successive deliveries. It was the breakthrough India needed when Australia seemed to be coasting along with Cowan firm at one end. The momentum suddenly seemed to assure that India would quickly wipe out the lower order.

The significance of Zaheer’s crucial breakthroughs won’t decide who wins or loses. Rather, the test would focus around his durability in contradicting the legitimate barometer of popular belief that he may not last through the series, given how stiff he occasionally appeared at times. Ishant, at the other end, looked confident and intermittently dangerous although he was unlucky on a few occasions.

India might have well scoffed at DRS as a legalistic nuisance but certainly the stance didn’t help when Brad Haddin was caught plumb in front to Zaheer, only for Marias Erasmus to decide otherwise. Given that both Ed Cowan and Michael Hussey would have survived had the DRS been in place, the decision’s impact wouldn’t have been frowned at too seriously. Hussey finds himself in a similar position as he did back during the 2009 Ashes in England when he was battling to save his place in the test side and nothing short of a repeat of his innings at The Oval back then would cushion his place for the rest of the series.

Despite their batting misgivings, Australia shrugged off the second new ball late evening as they looked favorably gearing towards a total in excess of three hundred. Siddle’s temperament was commendable, as was his intention to get to the non-striker’s end by nudging quick singles. Startling signs of discontent arose through the Indian fielding unit as the seventh wicket partnership crossed fifty runs.

Despite claiming safeguard towards the end of the day, the Australians would feel that they certainly missed out on capitalizing the start provided by Cowan, Ponting and Warner. With the wicket more likely to offer pace and bounce during the subsequent days, they’ll look to gather as much as they can given that the Indians will be chasing a fourth innings target.


Chandrasekhar Jayaramakrishnan

December 25, 2011

There is a new whiff of anxiety that engulfs the Australian air amidst the shimmering heat of expectations leading up to the Boxing Day test at Melbourne. Triggered over the last 18 months by a sudden upsurge in the number of individuals presented a baggy green, it marks a stark contrast to the mood in a nation that boasts having fielded the least number of captains in Test Cricket over the best part of the last 3 decades – an accolade that that sits atop a list that boasts solidity and surety in selection and leadership.

A defeat to their Trans-Tasman neighbors isn’t the most ideal way to approach a Boxing Day fixture. Australia’s amorphous top order has welcomed its newest occupant in the form of Ed Cowan, an individual perhaps known more for his prowess with the pen than the bat (given that a lot of viewers do not follow Australian Domestic Cricket) – one who has just come off a century in Canberra against the touring Indians. Avid book readers will relate his autobiography to the isomeric title that is shares with that written by a Pakistani General.

The opening partnership of Cowan and Warner will have to lay a solid foundation for the rest to capitalize on

The partnership of Cowan and Warner, representing solidity and attacking batsmanship respectively, will look to take advantage of a brittle Indian bowling line up whose injuries and form are governed by Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. The Australian weakness against the moving ball has been as well documented and exploited as political instability in the Middle East – a problem that has been diagnosed with no credible solutions on the card. Whether the Indian attack is all steam and no engine, depending on the fitness of Zaheer amongst others, to take notice of this is a question that will be answered over the next few days.

The lone positive that Australian cricket has witnessed is the rebirth of Michael Clarke, the batsman, after taking over the captaincy mantle. Clarke was touted as successor to Ponting well before he turned 25, and had his sinusoidal fluctuations in form – one that saw more troughs than crests over the last three or four years, including an alleged assault by current outcast Simon Katich.

But Clarke seems to have learnt, and learnt for the good. Much will depend on the number of runs he contributes at number five, given that he is the meat of the sandwich formed by old war veterans Ponting and Hussey, whose batting averages over the last few series’ have dipped to numbers possibly lesser than their ages.

But history has shown that these men have answered questions with the axes right over their heads. And they’ll look to capitalize against what appears a fragile attack on paper, given that the lower order’s batting form – especially Haddin and his unsure methods – has been indifferent of late.

A good total is one that would allow a young Australian bowling attack – boasting pace and aggression, but lacking experience – to have a go at an experienced Indian batting lineup that could well see off its stars from Australian soil for possibly the last time in some of their careers. The impressive forms of Pattinson and Siddle along with a wily Nathan Lyon will be up against a batting line up possessing a barrage of runs in their career banks – something that they are unlikely to encounter anytime later in their careers.

But the bigger concern that would require addressing from Mickey Arthur and the rest of the coaching camp is the Australian catching of late. Never before have so many issues tainted the Australian lineup and their first foreign coach would look to bury the issues, rather than sweeping them under a carpet.

Weather permitting, as I glance through the weather forecasts in Melbourne predicting showers, the cricketing world will look forward to a series that will erase the bruises of the last series down under to tip the cricketing scales towards the sporting direction.


Goutham Chakravarthi

Australia honours Sehwag with the title of Swami

“The best way to play bowlers is go after them. Intimidate them, shake them up, beat them up. All with a smile. Tell the bowler that you are after his dog, money, future and see him wilt and cry,” said Sehwag to a secretly arranged gathering by his ardent supporter Ian Chappell outside Manuka Oval in Canberra late on Thursday. Ian’s brother Greg, famously known to have pushed Sehwag into moving to Japan to try his luck in becoming a sumo wrestler, was seen scribbling down furiously on his notepad ahead of the next week’s batting clinic for the Australian Test batsmen.

A host of former Australian players and current Test stars had made themselves available on the occasion to pick on the genial Indian’s brains. Sehwag, known to be honest with his talk, was giving a lecture on batting following his disciple David Warner’s request that he address the rest of the domestic bashers in Australia before the BBL and see if Sehwag could inspire them into becoming Test batsmen.

“Footwork is an Australian obsession. Quick, decisive feet movement are associated with greatness in your country. In my country, we associate quick feet movement with dancers. So is fitness and preparation,” said Sehwag and in an impromptu jig sat in a wheelchair and faced the bowling of the young quickie Josh Hazelwood and hit him out of the ground much to the astonishment of the gathering. Sehwag continued to biff the deliveries bowled from a bowling machine for a good 15 minutes and finished with a square driven six that went out of the practicing facility and into the ground where Indians were playing the warm-up match and hit Ishant Sharma on his boot injuring him and forcing him to limp off the field putting him in doubt for the Boxing Day Test.

Unconvinced by Sehwag’s methods, Greg Chappell immediately challenged Sehwag to face the greats of the past in a wheel chair and produced the latest version of ProBatter – ProBatter 2.0 – that not only simulates the bowling action and deliveries and speeds of modern bowlers, but of all those who have played the game – including the French maid Adèle who is claimed to have first invented bowling in 1149 A.D. “Fat boy, smacking Josh Hazelwood is an easy task as is flogging this machine. See if you can flog Ponsford, Old, Larwood, Barnes among others,” challenged Greg Chappell.

“Are they your nannies? Never heard of them,” said Sehwag even as the history-steeped gathering let out a collective gasp. In true Indian style, Sehwag called up his mom to seek her blessings (karlo duniya muththi mein) and set out on a rampage against the wild bearded 19th century Englishmen first.

Adjusting to the various chuckers of the time, Sehwag tore into them. One of them, a certain Lord H.R.E Muleman had his shin battered and ProBatter 2.0 had to be retired hurt for a while before Clarrie Grimmett and Bill O’Rielly were scared away by Sehwag who smote them from wide off the stumps to way over square-leg and from leg-stump to square over the point boundaries. In three minutes, Sehwag reduced the superstars from early 20th century to bowling negative lines for the first time in their real and virtual lives combined. Soon enough Larwood was sent back to the mines, as were Old and Trueman. Sehwag even had to battle the 19th century English round armers and the 1910s Aussie quickies bowling with the then slightly bigger sized cricket ball. The challenge ended when Lilliee was badly hurt on his follow through as a Sehwag straight drive caught him on his mouth even as Bill Lawry called him “you beauty” from among the cheering audience.

By the time Sehwag was done he had not only battered ProBatter 2.0, he had won over the entire Australian gathering who were reported to have been chanting “maar veeru maar…. aur maar” (hit them Viru, beat them up!) as if in a trance. With tears in his eyes, Richie Benaud said he had seen many batsmen in his lifetime, but never anyone who decoded batting like Sehwag. Deeply moved by the sagacious Sehwag’s knowledge of batting, he said, “His simplicity is astounding as his is knowledge of the game. I always thought the patch on his head was just a bald spot. I have now realized that it was the halo of an all knowing superior being. He is god to me. I have just received confirmation from the prime minister’s office that the Australian government will honour Sehwag with the title of a Swami.”

Among raucous applause Sehwag was honoured with the title of a swami by the Australian prime minister Julia Gillard in Canberra on Friday. The title was unanimously chosen by the ProBatter 2.0 bowlers who suffered his wrath the previous day. The gave him the tile of Engala Vittrungasaami (please leave us alone, swami!).


Srikrishnan Chandrasekaran

Like in 2009, T&T were the most popular team in CLT20 this year too

We have seen some exciting actions over the last 3 weeks from CLT20 2011. Players from various teams have shown their talent of hard hitting and excellent bowling in given circumstances. The very sad part in the tournament was the fact that two matches were washed out due to rain which resulted in giving opportunity for an ordinary team to be in last four and better teams out of the way. The 2 teams, New South Wales Vs Trinidad & Tobago, showed excellent skills and many of the fans across the globe would have expected them to be playing  in the finals. These two were the most deserving teams to be in finals, but this year T20 saw more of luck favoring the teams rather than the performance.

David Warner and Chris Gayle played outstanding cricket throughout the tournament. The coaches of these two teams must have watched their performance several times as they have not shown only pure hitting, but played innings of character and sense which can be transformed from T20 to any other format of cricket. Definitely the players across other countries will be very much pleased if these two folks are not picked for their national teams in ODIs / Test matches.  At the same time fans all over world will be missing their exhibition of stroke play.

Chris Gayle in particular showed a lot of maturity than his earlier years. Over the last two years or so, he has been appearing only in T20 cricket tournaments and it is really tough to end as top performers of the tournament. Now, twice in succession he has proved to be the batsmen in this format. His hitting has been phenomenal. The pitch at the M. Chinnaswamy also has contributed generously to his cause.

The tournament will be more exciting if the organizers think from a holistic point of view of promoting cricket by reducing players salary and prize money similar to an ordinary cricket tournament as the cricket loses some good talented players in International arena in the longer formats just because of the prize money and salary awarded to the players in T20. That’s perhaps a discussion for another day.